Air ambulance moves Hammond from Leeds hospital

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The Independent Online

Top Gear presenter Richard Hammond was discharged from Leeds General Infirmary today and transferred by air ambulance to an undisclosed hospital.

An air ambulance was seen landing on a helipad at the Leeds hospital at around 10.40am and after Mr Hammond was transferred to the aircraft by stretcher, it took off 11 minutes later.

The 36-year-old presenter was taken to the hospital just over a week ago after a jet-powered Vampire dragster he was driving was involved in a high-speed crash at Elvington airfield, near York.

Hammond was seen surrounded by paramedics, hospital staff and two firemen as he was wheeled towards the yellow Yorkshire Air Ambulance (YAA).

He was clearly seen laughing and smiling as the transfer took place.

Hammond, dressed in a white top, was sitting up on the stretcher clutching either a jacket or blanket.

The TV star was airlifted to the Leeds hospital in the YAA following last Wednesday's accident.

The 370mph jet-powered Vampire dragster he was driving at speeds up to 300mph veered off the runway, flipped over several times and crashed on the grass.

Medical staff at the hospital said his recovery was continuing as he recuperated on a general ward after being transferred from a high dependency unit on Friday.

His wife, Mindy, has been keeping a vigil at her husband's bedside and has thanked the public for their support as her husband continues to recover from his injuries.

In the days after the crash, the TV star said he was so overwhelmed with flowers he was worried he could be in for some ribbing from fellow Top Gear presenters Jeremy Clarkson and James May.

Mindy's appeal for the public to make donations to the Yorkshire Air Ambulance instead of sending flowers saw motoring enthusiasts on the internet forum pistonheads.com set up a webpage (www.justgiving.com/phrichardhammond) so that contributions could be made to the charity.

Since the accident, more than £148,000 has been raised for the Yorkshire Air Ambulance from donations to the website - despite one £50,000 donation last week being declined.

Police and Health and Safety Executive investigations are continuing to establish exactly what went wrong in the incident which happened during filming for the BBC2 motoring show.

The hospital said Hammond suffered a "significant brain injury".

Neurosurgery experts have said the fact that Hammond was able to regain some consciousness in the immediate aftermath of the crash could bolster hopes of a good recovery.

Hammond is understood to have undertaken a number of runs before the one which ended in the crash.

May had been due to make the run but Hammond had taken over.

A BBC spokeswoman confirmed that the final part of the Best Of Top Gear, which was due to be screened on October 1, had been postponed.

Martin Eede, the YAA's chief executive, confirmed the presenter had been airlifted from Leeds General Infirmary in their helicopter.

Mr Eede said: "The crew were doing a routine training flight to the LGI and it coincided with a need for him to be taken to Leeds Bradford Airport.

"We were asked to transfer him there to a waiting plane, which has now taken off and has moved him closer to his home."

It is understood the TV star has been taken to a hospital closer to his home near Cheltenham in Gloucestershire.

Mr Eede added: "We are pleased it has gone full circle. We were obviously involved in airlifting him to the LGI and we are pleased that he appears to be making such good progress and we were able to help out once again."

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